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LaLiga should play three games abroad a year, says FC Barcelona president

FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has declared he wants to see a minimum of three LaLiga fixtures played abroad each year – North America, the Middle East and Asia –  to improve the league’s global standing.

His statement comes in spite of the scrapping of plans to stage an official league game between FC Barcelona and Girona in Miami last month after widespread opposition from various stakeholders.

“If we want LaLiga to be strong, we are to play in these games,” Bartomeu told BBC Sport. “At Barça we have sometimes been talking to La Liga and have been telling them that if you want to promote La Liga more and more, then we should have three games of the year outside – one in America, one in the Middle East and one in Asia. We have to go and be closer to the fans.”

When asked to respond to Bartomeu’s comments, LaLiga’s chief communications officer Joris Evers told SportBusiness: “Of course, we strongly support any club’s international ambitions as we certainly share the vision of bringing LaLiga action closer to fans everywhere and making La Liga a stronger international brand.

“We continue to work towards playing a LaLiga match outside of Spain and want to do that as soon as possible. We are working with all stakeholders to make it happen.

“We see this as a logical next step in the growth of our league and as a clear benefit to everyone involved.”

Opposition from the Spanish federation and the players’ union, among others, will be expected once again.

Xavier O’Callaghan, the managing director of the FC Barcelona New York office, told SportBusiness in January that he was keen for the club to play a game in the US to promote the club and activate sponsors.

“For  [us]  as an office it was a pity because bringing an asset like a real game could be an amazing tool to promote the brand and I think that  football  in the US could be well promoted with these games,” O’Callaghan said.  

“We don’t like confrontation so if everyone feels that it is not working it makes no sense to do it. If everyone agrees then we are happy to do it. It is possible,  for sure.”  

LaLiga has signed a 15-year partnership with Relevent Sports to promote the league in North America.